For almost as long as there’s been television, there’s been controversy about various TV shows. From time to time, a network’s most popular series will air a particularly shocking episode. Other times, entire series will draw ire for their very premise. As time has gone on, outrage over sex, violence, and other hot topics has shifted with cultural norms. But there are some topics that will always make headlines — and so will the programs that tackle them. Here are 15 of the most controversial TV shows of all time.
MTV has found major success in the reality TV realm, especially with series like Jackass and Jersey Shore. So in 2013, the network decided to give fans the best of both worlds and created Buckwild, a series that followed a group of West Virginian teens. Designed to highlight their rural lives — from mud-wrestling to squirrel hunting — the series was met with immediate criticism from people who felt it unfairly stereotyped the region. MTV aired the first season in its entirety despite the backlash, and green-lit a second season to boot.
However, several Buckwild cast members ended up getting in trouble with law enforcement as the first season was winding down in February 2013. Then, in March, another cast member, Shain Gandee, tragically died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Buckwild teens’ dangerous behavior proved to be too much for MTV, and the network ultimately called it quits before they could finish filming Season 2.